Friday 23 January 2009
Bryan Singer takes a break from superhero movies (X-Men, Superman Returns) to tell the story of a real-life hero.
Claus von Stauffenberg, a veteran colonel of the German campaign in North Africa, spearheaded a group of high-ranking German officers in a plot to assassinate the Fuhrer at his Wolf's Lair HQ in July, 1944.
Tom Cruise plays the colonel, a distinctive figure with his eye patch and one arm (the other lost in combat), leading a cadre of British character actors – Bill Nighy, Eddie Izzard, Kenneth Branagh and Terence Stamp – towards their doom. Tom Wilkinson plays a wavering general, while David Bamber offers a fine cameo as Hitler. Their acting isn't the problem, it's simply their unlikeliness as German officers: excepting Bamber and the lipless Branagh, who was also good as Reinhard Heydrich in the television movie Conspiracy, these Brit faces have a kind of jolly, well-fed familiarity that cuts against the Teutonic model. When the conspirators each hold up a yellow card – a signal of their allegiance – they look more like a gang of Premier League football referees doing fancy dress.
Yet Valkyrie is not without its excitements. The build-up to the pivotal moment is expertly handled (almost in real time) and for a while, agonisingly, the plot appears to have succeeded. The bomb which Stauffenberg placed beneath a conference table exploded on cue, but its ultimate aim was frustrated: they had scorched the snake, but not killed it. The film, written by Christopher McQuarrie and Nathan Alexander, in its final third examines the aftermath of the assassination attempt, when the conspirators planned to initiate a coup and use the reserve army to neutralise the threat of the SS. This, too, has some potency, but without a comparable interest in psychology – the plotters' or anyone else's – it feels no more authentic than Stauffenberg's glass eyeball.
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Notting Hill Carnival: Woman shares selfie after being ‘punched in face for telling man to stop groping her’
- 2 Joan Rivers: 'Palestinians deserve to be dead'
- 3 Daily Show's Jon Stewart destroys Fox News for its Ferguson coverage
- 4 Botched ice bucket challenge leaves man critically injured after plane drops hundreds of gallons of water
- 5 Friends reunion: Jennifer Anniston, Lisa Kudrow and Courteney Cox perform mini sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
Great British Bake Off 2014: Diana Beard quits due to illness
Nicki Minaj suffers wardrobe malfunction during MTV VMAs performance with Ariana Grande and Jessie J
Homer Simpson takes the ALS ice bucket challenge because of course he does
Friends reunion: Jennifer Anniston, Lisa Kudrow and Courteney Cox perform mini sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
Great British Bake Off embroiled in Baked Alaska 'sabotage' scandal
Exclusive: We share blame for creating 'jihad generation', says Muslim strategist
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
Ukip Douglas Carswell defection: Tory MP jumps ship to join Nigel Farage
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